Help Wanted for a Fresh Start.

Get advice on making beer from raw ingredients (malt, hops, water and yeast)
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Eric
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Help Wanted for a Fresh Start.

Post by Eric » Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:18 pm

Many years since my last brew, I'm getting close to ordering some ingredients and wondering about quantities etc.

Now I used to find it difficult to make good brews after cup final day and would by now be running low, not ordering malt and hops.

Also my beers didn't keep too well through summer and not because they quickly got drank. I have no refrigeration/temperature control.

Is what I've described the norm or should I be doing better? Can I deal with higher fermentation temperatures and produce high quality ales?

So please, from your own experience, tell me what would you do in my situation.

I have one mash tun, a 5 gallon boiler with 3 @ 5 gallon for fermentation and 3 @ 5 gallon and 2 @ two and a half gallon pressure barrels.

Please don't hold back, I want to make good beer and am prepared for lots of input to compliment the trial and errors of the past.

My preference is for balanced-cum-grainy beers around 4% ABV but variety is welcome.

Eric.
Without patience, life becomes difficult and the sooner it's finished, the better.

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Eric
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Re: Help Wanted for a Fresh Start.

Post by Eric » Tue Mar 31, 2009 1:08 am

Thanks Chris,

That is the sort of information I need. Indeed yes, I'm a Dave Line desciple although I later bought Graham Wheeler's first book and a couple of others.

Oxidation is a valid point to highlight. Perhaps I was wrong with this in the past despite being warned by the owner of our local homebrew shop. This is an area for improvement.

Leaving beer in the primary fermenter for 10-14 days is alien to me. My brother-in-law did this and his beer was awful. However, the result was possibly due to the kits he chose to use. Obviously I need to adopt this method.

I started mashing in the Electrim boiler but learned that with sufficient insulation a reasonably constant temperature was possible. However, on the subject of mashing, I'm surprised to find little reference here to starch testing. Is this test taken for granted or considered unnecessary?

For cleaning/sterilisation I used Chempro SDP and then sodium met. at times to make sure. Are campden tablets and sodium metabisuphite the same weight for weight and both suitable for removing chlorines from tap water?

Thanks for that recipé. I like English hops, I'll use it, it's more my style. With just 3 ingredients plus yeast and finings it makes ordering easy. Does anyone grow their own hops and if so, with what results?

Interesting about the software. There was nothing like this in my day. While I'm not quite a novice with computers, I find it hard to reconcile taste with a computer programme, the latter more usually considered often as tasteless.

Again thanks for a comprehensive and VERY helpful answer. Any more takers? A hard reply to match?

Eric.
Without patience, life becomes difficult and the sooner it's finished, the better.

Scooby

Re: Help Wanted for a Fresh Start.

Post by Scooby » Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:50 am

Eric wrote:
Again thanks for a comprehensive and VERY helpful answer. Any more takers? A hard reply to match?

Eric.
Too many cooks spoil the broth, stand aside when Escoffier's at the stove :=P :lol:

Northern Brewer

Re: Help Wanted for a Fresh Start.

Post by Northern Brewer » Tue Mar 31, 2009 8:48 am

Eric wrote: Leaving beer in the primary fermenter for 10-14 days is alien to me. My brother-in-law did this and his beer was awful. However, the result was possibly due to the kits he chose to use.
You are comparing chalk with cheese. Trust Chris on this one. 10-14 days in the primary with a half-decent yeast and your All Grain will take fantastic.
Last edited by Northern Brewer on Tue Mar 31, 2009 1:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

boingy

Re: Help Wanted for a Fresh Start.

Post by boingy » Tue Mar 31, 2009 12:28 pm

Scooby wrote:Too many cooks spoil the broth, stand aside when Escoffier's at the stove :=P :lol:
Escoffier or Delia? :twisted:

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Eric
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Re: Help Wanted for a Fresh Start.

Post by Eric » Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:49 pm

So that's it? Just like that? No fuss, do x, y and z and bingo, gorgeous beer?

But seriously, I'll follow that advice to the letter and thank you for it. There are several significant differences from the route I would otherwise have taken.

Chris, you suggest a batch of hops after the boil when down to 80 C, but I would chill mine quite quickly at about that stage. Is there Conflict here?

I presume after the length of primary fermentation you would prime your pressure barrel. How do you suggest I do this?

After 2 weeks primary, say 4 weeks conditioning, how long would you expect the beer to stay drinkable during the summer? This must be a hard one as I don't have a cellar at 56 F. My past experiences were of drinking young beer that would quite suddenly be "On Song" quickly followed by a flat pint with a thin head and large bubbles on top despite keeping a cover of CO2. Can I expect any better?

I'm not yet confident I'll get more than a couple of good brews before late autumn.

Eric.
Without patience, life becomes difficult and the sooner it's finished, the better.

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Eric
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Re: Help Wanted for a Fresh Start.

Post by Eric » Tue Mar 31, 2009 9:52 pm

Thanks Chris, thanks a million. Just the hard bit left, my wife to convince.

Eric.
Without patience, life becomes difficult and the sooner it's finished, the better.

Northern Brewer

Re: Help Wanted for a Fresh Start.

Post by Northern Brewer » Wed Apr 01, 2009 7:05 am

If I may be so bold as to jump in here, it appears to me that it may be worth your while considering bottling a batch or two for summer consumption. OK, I accept it' can be a PITA, but it would overcome your cooling and carbonation concerns. Moreover, it doesn't have to go into beer bottles per se, because as long as you can keep them out of the light, bog-standard PET lemonade bottles, in their various capacities, will suffice.

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Re: Help Wanted for a Fresh Start.

Post by Eric » Wed Apr 01, 2009 5:52 pm

Please comment, I need to get up to date.

Now I wondered about plastic bottles. I did bottle a few in the past, indeed I still have some that could be ten years old complete with a good layer of dust on the outside but crystal clear inside. I've a few other glass ones but plastic ones would solve another problem.

Thanks for that assurance. Also I liked the idea of putting a jug in the fridge to cool, possibly then trying a top-up with warmer beer from the barrel.

With luck I'll have everything in order by the end of this weekend so I need to get an order placed and then the fun will start.

Many many Thanks,

Eric.
Without patience, life becomes difficult and the sooner it's finished, the better.

Northern Brewer

Re: Help Wanted for a Fresh Start.

Post by Northern Brewer » Wed Apr 01, 2009 7:16 pm

Chris-x1 wrote:Bottles are time consuming to clean and fill but they are a lot easier to serve from and chill.
Agreed, but 11 x 2 litre bottles are a lot easier than 44 x 500ml ones. Theoretically, with 2 litre ones, you have to empty them in one go otherwise the yeast becomes disturbed. This is quite simple if you involve a jug, but in my experience, if you're careful enough, and have used a flocculent yeast such as SO4, the bottle can be emptied over a couple of nights. 1 litre bottles, such as mixer bottles, offer a nice compromise.
Chris-x1 wrote:Plastic bottles are ok but they are gas permiable so the beer will oxidise in them after a while, i'd limit storage in plastic bottles to a couple of months.
Not so sure about this though. I have some 2 year-old beers in the cellar that were bottled into 500ml PETs, and whilst they're possibly showing their age they're still drinkable and bottles have maintained positive pressure. As a solution to get though summer I think they would work.
Chris-x1 wrote:Good heavy duty brown glass bottles are getting harder to come by as breweries switch to using thinner glass for economical reasons

Cobra Beer and Magners Cider bottles are a good choice for homebrewers, they are made of thick glass, they are brown and there's no deposit on the bottles so you may be able to aquire some from your local pub landlord or indian take away.
I never knew this about Cobra bottles. Time to go out for a curry!

Northern Brewer

Re: Help Wanted for a Fresh Start.

Post by Northern Brewer » Wed Apr 01, 2009 8:04 pm

Chris-x1 wrote:There has been a lot of research into this recently by the brewing industry, including into the development of lined bottles and containers. They are coming (along with PET cans) but generally pop bottles wont have this lining.
I can imagine and accept this. Every other drinks industry is using PET, so there has to be a reason why the brewing industry hasn't fully embraced this plastic yet. Having said that, it used to be possible to buy beer in 2 litre PETs 20+ years ago and my own experience confirms that beer bottled into PETs now, would certainly survive until autumn. By then, Eric will have survived the summer, got into his brewing groove, and will be starting to question what Cornies are :lol:

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Eric
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Re: Help Wanted for a Fresh Start.

Post by Eric » Fri Apr 03, 2009 9:13 pm

He's beginning to wonder what Cornies are now, but isn't sure it would be a good idea to know at this stage.

Eric.
Without patience, life becomes difficult and the sooner it's finished, the better.

Northern Brewer

Re: Help Wanted for a Fresh Start.

Post by Northern Brewer » Sat Apr 04, 2009 6:39 am

Eric wrote:He's beginning to wonder what Cornies are now, but isn't sure it would be a good idea to know at this stage.
Oh dear - it's only a matter of time and it's happened to us all. Console yourself with the fact that it was inevitable :lol:

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